Wrexham 3-5 MK Dons: Disappointment for the Dragons on their EFL return
After a 15 year exile Wrexham’s highly anticipated return to the EFL was one to forget as MK Dons put in a five star performance beating the Red Dragons in style at the SToK Racecourse stadium.
Phil Parkinson’s men entered the 2023/34 campaign as National League champions in a record breaking 111 point season and amongst many the home side are expected to be one of the dominant forces within League 2 this year along with yesterdays opponents MK Dons, but in truth this game was only ever ending in victory for the away side.
It looked like the game was over as quick as it started with two quick fire goals within 10 minutes from the Dons. The opener came via an own goal off the head of Eoghan O’Connell as the ball flew past a helpless Ben Foster. A second was added soon after, with the Wrexham defence unable to cope with Mo Eisa who unopposed calmly finished from the edge of the penalty area.
The home side then rallied and tried to work themselves back into the match but found it hard to gain any real control with Tom O’Connor playing in his less-preferred position within the back three.
In the 42nd minute Wrexham’s effort was rewarded, an initial shot from Billy Waters was parried into the path of Jacob Mendy who slammed home from the left side of the penalty area to offer some hope to a sold-out SToK Racecourse stadium.
As the half time whistle was blown there was still optimism between the reds supporters that some ‘Parky enthusiasm’ at the break could be the spark to mount a Wrexham comeback.
In contrast, it was Graham Alexander’s men who would add to their tally in the 51st minute. Jonathon Leko who was playing his first ever minutes at this level showed why he was a cut above the rest. The 24 year-old clinically struck his shot from 25 yards into the bottom corner of Fosters goal giving Wrexham a mountain to climb once again.
After an hour Parkinson called to his bench and sent on Jake Bickerstaff, Ollie Palmer and Jordan Davies for the departing Sam Dalby, Billy Waters and Andy Cannon. The Wrexham manager switched to a back four in hope that with an extra man in midfield, the hosts would be able to get a foothold in the game.
Yet, just 4 minutes later Leko showed his class again, a neatly constructed MK Dons counter attack was slotted home by the forward which gave the away side a 4-1 lead, all but sealing maximum points for the travelling team.
On his first ever EFL appearance Wrexham born Jordan Davies scored the pick of the bunch in the 82nd minute with a brilliant strike from outside the area, the shot bending away from Craig MacGillivary giving the keeper no chance and offering a glimmer of hope to the home side.
That hope was again cut down by the Dons when they added a fifth goal through Daniel Harvey in injury time. The wingback drove right through the heart of the Wrexham back line, who again lacked any incisive defending, and wrapped up the points for MK Dons.
There was still time for one last goal, Anthony Forde grabbed a consolation in the 95th minute in game that was described by Phil Parkinson as a “reality check” for his players post-match.